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2817Re: Car brats

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  • Guy Berliner
    Mar 15, 2001
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      This seems to me like much the same problem as tobacco.
      Smoking is slowly turning into a social faux pas in the US.
      It's taken a decades-long campaign to achieve this result.
      And the coup de grace has been the massive legal case against
      the industry as a whole, precipitated by evidence of
      outright criminality at the highest official levels. The
      petrochemical, automotive, and allied industries will
      eventually have a similar, but vastly greater debt to pay
      to society.

      Consider just one datum alone: the case of leaded gasoline. As
      documented in the story by Jamie Lee Kitman,
      "The Secret History of Lead," (The Nation, Mar. 20, 2000), some
      of the biggest firms in these (or any) industries engaged in a
      classic conspiracy to keep a known dangerous product on the
      market for decades, even though safer alternatives were available.
      The resulting damage to public health and the environment is
      incalculable. Estimates cited before Congress are that 67 million
      American children were exposed to toxic levels of lead (levels at
      which measurable impairment can occur) over the course of the sixty
      years of legal use of leaded gasoline in the US. If, in this one
      case alone, the firms responsible were held to the same liability
      standard as the tobacco industry, the legal settlement would likely
      be big enough to rebuild most of America's decaying urban core.

      Bruce Minturn wrote:
      >Ryan asked,
      >> So if car use was treated like an addiction, what tools would we use to
      >> lessen the addiction or break it?
      >From June in Australia:
      >Addiction in the proper sense, ie artificial brain chemical changes
      >caused by drugs, is very difficult to treat - you can withdraw addicts from
      >drug use but relapse rates are high because the brain changes are so
      >persistent. Car "addiction," however, would more likely qualify as a
      >compulsion, which can often be successfully treated with classic
      >behaviour modification methods.
      >Basically, you prevent the person from using a car. Each time they wanted
      >to but weren't allowed, another
      >transport solution would be offered in its place. If this is done
      >consistently, the person should quickly "unlearn" dependence on
      >cars for transport. The problem is, while this would (theoretically) work
      >if cars
      >were seen simply as transport, of course they're not. They're very much
      >tied up with self-image, status (a profound psychological force) and sexual
      >imagery (the powerful hunter, the sleek seductress etc). These values are
      >probably an innate part of human psychology wired into the dopamine "must
      >do" system and reinforced by cultural environment. A way to overcome innate
      >programming is to override it with cultural programming - ie create a
      >strong anti-car environment. In that scenario, car deprivation behaviour
      >therapy should work. Unfortunately, you have the Catch-22 situation of
      >trying to create the anti-car society so you can get people to give up using
      >cars so you can create an anti-car society...
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